Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Turning a near disaster into a learning experience

The symposium follow-up session on Eduserv Island went very well today, with about 34 people attending.

But it was very nearly a disaster...

I blogged earlier about the PanelPod software that I've been developing to automatically chair the session. Oh boy, how wrong was I!? I dunno how many hours I put into the PanelPod scripting, but I completely mis-read the effect that it would have on the discussion.

Not that the software crashed or anything... but by putting the chairing/queuing system in the way of people's discussion and by making people put up their hands before speaking I completely destroyed and kind of natural flow to the discussion in the room.

To be more positive, it was an interesting experiment. After about 10 minutes of very stifled discussion the talk turned to what was wrong - my queuing system! :-( I turned it off and very quickly the discussion flowed more naturally.

The result was a very interesting debate involving many of the people in the room and covering quite a wide range of topics including how to get learners engaged with SL, what makes it an exciting environment, how assessment might or might not work in SL and so on.

We'll do a longer blog entry on the eFoundations blog in due course. For now, just note that a transcript of the session is available if you want to see what went on.


David Tebbutt said...

Hello Art, thanks again for the get-together yesterday.

I have worked out some stats which might interest you.

Dividing the event into 'controlled' and 'uncontrolled' sections and ignoring the intro' stuff (which latecomers (like me) couldn't catch up on) here are the numbers:

Controlled bit:

19 minutes duration
8 participants
37 contributions
611 words typed
16.51 average words per contribution
1.87 seconds per word

Uncontrolled bit:

65 minutes
25 participants
447 contributions
4895 words typed
10.95 average words per contribution
0.8 seconds per word

Peter Miller said...

I didn't think it was a disaster. I'd used the system once previously and technically it was OK. A f2f discussion would have been equally challenging as there was no evident structure or objective (unlike the JISC session). Giving it a title like "Where do we go from here?" would have been good. The differences David mentions might be due in part to people warming up though I did cancel one or two comments as the discussion seemed to shift ground. Not knowing who was a newbie and who was speaking from experience made evaluation a little difficult. I think idea of using Web 2.0 tools, e.g. Diigo, to expand on the transcript would be worth considering (though comments are OK too).

Unknown said...

Again, No disaster on your part, I thought it was a very interesting discussion, when I stopped panicking...

In a typical SL bug, some particpants saw my avatar as dancing on their screen, while I sat serenely on my own screen, with no animations running. After the second IM, I beat a hasty exit, and then returned later on having logged out and in, hoping to have fixed the problem. Apologies to those Participants who were affected by the bug if the wild flailing distracted!